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Virginia employer partners with ICE

Thesis Painting becomes an IMAGE CHARTER partner

FAIRFAX, Va. – A Virginia painting company is partnering with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reduce fraud and the hiring of illegal workers.

Thesis Painting officially became an IMAGE partner at a signing ceremony in Fairfax, Va., Friday, joining five other businesses in Virginia and Washington, D.C., which are partnering with ICE to ensure a more secure workforce and to enhance fraudulent document awareness through education and training.

The IMAGE program, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, is a voluntary program that helps employers comply with the law by equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure a legal, authorized workforce.

"Thesis Painting now joins IMAGE business participants around the country who are committed to protecting the integrity of their workforce," said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington. "This partnership enables them to recognize the highest level of employment integrity by helping employers to ensure that their employees are who they represent themselves to be and that they are legally authorized to work in this country."

"It is imperative to the success of every business that relies on an immigrant workforce to be given the proper tools to comply with the constant changes in regulations. By being an IMAGE Charter Member, we not only protect our company, but our employees and our clients from the liabilities that the current immigration system is causing in the workplace," said Barbara Spyridakis, owner of Thesis Painting, which is headquartered in Springfield, Va., and employs 53 people.

To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to enroll in E-verify, have written hiring policies that include a self-audit, and undergo an ICE form I-9 audit.

Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in today's marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits, and stealing identities of legal United States workers. To combat this, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006.

Through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) E-Verify employment eligibility verification program, employers can verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. This Internet-based system is available throughout the nation and is free to employers. It provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and DHS immigration records.

IMAGE provides free training to all employers on the provisions of the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.

In total, ICE has 114 IMAGE members nationwide. Other recent IMAGE agreements in Virginia and Washington, D.C. include Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, Inc., General Dynamics, Interstate Worldwide Relocation Services, National Association of Foreign Trade Zones, and Regalmark, Inc. The agreements with these organizations, and this new one, represent dozens of hiring sites and more than 143,000 employees.

Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can call 1-866-DHS-2ICE or visit www.ICE.gov/image.